The Charity Commission has recently published two reports in
relation to its inquiries into Global Aid Trust Limited (registered
charity number 1123560) and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK)
(registered charity number 267309). Both charities were featured in
the programme 'Charities Behaving Badly'. The programme
aired on ITV on Wednesday 18 February 2015 and raised serious
concerns regarding the charities' trustees' management of a
guest speaker at the charities' events. In both cases the
speaker was recorded by an undercover journalist making comments
that were considered to be inappropriate and unacceptable at an
event run by a charity and raised concerns about the lack of
trustee or professional oversight and management of the
After obtaining and reviewing all the footage recorded by the
makers of the programme, the Commission concluded that the trustees
had failed in their duties to protect their respective charities
and that there was mismanagement in the administration of the
charities, including a failure to follow the charities' own
policies and procedures on speakers participating at events and a
lack of appropriate oversight and monitoring of employees,
volunteers and external speakers at the charities' events.
Lessons for other charities
Charities that regularly host guest
speakers must have appropriate policies and procedures in place to
protect the charity and manage the associated risks of hosting
guest speakers at events.
Where children and young people are
in attendance, there must also be policies and procedures in place
to safeguard young people.
Trustees should undertake appropriate
background checks on potential guest speakers for charity events.
More generally they should carefully consider the suitability of
individuals or groups the charity will be closely associated
Charities must ensure that staff,
volunteers and guest speakers are provided with appropriate job or
role descriptions. This should include the rules and boundaries
within which they must work, especially when representing or
speaking on behalf of the charity. Staff and volunteers should also
have appropriate training in relation to the charity's internal
policies and procedures.
Trustees should ensure that material
distributed by their charity, including speeches by guest speakers,
is consistent with the charity's charitable objectives and
complies with the law, including criminal, human rights and
In summary, trustees need to be vigilant, particularly if they
regularly run events using guest speakers who may be deemed to be
The full case reports in relation to the two charities are
available here and here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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